TOP bull riders Aaron Kleier and Fraser Babbington put on a masterclass performance at Saturday night’s Bendigo Invitational at the Prince of Wales Showgrounds.
Both Kleier and Babbington are ranked No.1 and No.2 in the Professional Bull Riding Australia standings and showed why when they both successfully rode four bulls in front of an enthusiastic Bendigo crowd.
The event was the first time PBR Australia has held a competition in regional Victoria and proved a success.
Bendigo will hold fond memories for New Zealand’s Babbington, who was crowned the champion after producing the night’s two highest scores in the championship round.
Babbington – the 2015 PBR Australia champion – scored 87 points on both High Flying Akubra and Light Em Up in his two rides in the championship round.
Babbington had earlier successfully ridden Bad Apple (85.50) and Caught Fire (84.50) in the opening round.
“It’s turning into a bit of a battle with me and Aaron (Kleier) and it just makes you ride better when you see someone else ridding well like he is,” Babbington said.
“Once you ride that first bull you gain some momentum to take into the next one, and then the next one and you build your confidence.
“It has been awesome here in Bendigo… the crowd and atmosphere has been great and I can’t wait to come back here and do it again.”
Babbington has contested 10 events as part of the extended PBR Australia 2017-18 season, which will culminate with the finals in November.
Kleier had the third and fourth best rides in the championship round behind Babbington aboard Chemical Weapon (86.50) and Coors Light (84.50).
Apart from Babbington and Kleier, the other six riders from the field of 29 who reached the eight second mark in the opening round to qualify for the championship round were Justin Paton, Budd Williamson, Cliff Richardson, Ryan Storey, Lane Mellers and Beau Willis.
Storey drew the 2016 PBR Bucking Bull of the Year, Hillbilly Deluxe, in the championship round and was bucked off after 3.80 seconds.
Among the competitors was Swan Hill’s Will Watson, who was bucked off Buck Howdy in 0.40 seconds in the opening round.
Meanwhile, the No.1 bull of the night was Call Me Joe, which scored 45 points before bucking off Richardson in 3.86 seconds in the championship round.